As the nation’s premier organization for girls, it is our mission to build girls of courage, confidence, and character who will make the world a better place. What better way for us to help girls grow strong than to teach them the importance of using their voice by participating in the upcoming election cycle? A 2014 poll by Girl Scouts Research Institute found that girls have a lot of interest in politics and have had an array of political and civic engagement experiences:
- A vast majority (83%) of girls have participated in a cause, campaign, or organization they believe in.
- An impressive 67% of girls are interested in politics.
- The most common motivations behind becoming a politician are the desire to make a difference in the world (78%) and the desire to help people (76%).
Sound like some Girl Scouts you know? While this level of interest is super exciting, girls polled said they wanted more guidance, opportunities, and general support to further their political interests and capabilities. This is where you (troop leaders) come in. While our non-profit status means there are some pretty strict rules about getting involved in politics, there are lots of ways Girl Scouts can – and should – engage in the civic process.
Four ways your troop can participate this election season:
- Earning their Citizen badge. Girl Scouts and civic engagement go way back. In fact, citizenship is the theme of our Legacy badges, meaning girls can earn a badge at each level of Girl Scouting to learn more about the political process and practice using their voice on issues that matter to them. Check out The Girl’s Guide to Girl Scouting for badge requirements.
- Getting out the vote. It took women almost 150 years to get the right to vote in the United States of America. Girl Scouts can ensure that all citizens understand the importance of their vote by collecting signatures of members in their community who promise that they will vote on Election Day. Pass out cookies or stickers to adults who make the pledge!
- Attending political events. As long as girls equally attend events of all political parties, they are encouraged to go and ask candidates questions about issues that are important to girls. Pro-tip: While the presidential election tends to get all the attention, local offices may have the most direct effect on girls and their communities, plus they are super accessible! Attend your local town hall meeting to see the political process up close and in person.
- Going to the polls with an adult. Remember all those adults who promised a Girl Scout they would vote? Have girls go with them on Election Day to see it through! Plus, many voting stations offer young people the opportunity to participate in a kids vote – and go home with a red sticker of their own!
For more detailed information on what you can and cannot do with Girl Scouts regarding this election, check out this handy guide. Most importantly, remember to be balanced and transparent with families about what your troop will be doing – and why it’s so important for girls to be educated, engaged, and excited about politics!
Natasha Brownlee – Natasha is a Program Specialist at River Valleys, where she develops and leads awesome Girl Scout events – and runs the In the Loop blog! Her background is in curriculum development, programming, and creative writing. She has BA’s in Peace Studies and French and a MSc in Gender, Development & Globalization and has worked with various girl-centered organizations in the US and abroad. Natasha loves traveling around the world, practicing yoga, and hanging out with her dog, Rooney!